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The potential for biogas innovation in Iowa

January 11, 2017

The potential for biogas innovation in Iowa

The newly released Iowa Energy Plan includes this finding:

In Iowa the use of biomass to produce electricity directly or to produce biogas remains an untapped potential and abundant resource.

Biogases are gas emissions from organic waste (called biomass in the report), from both animal and human sources. These gases can be collected and refined into methane, the primary component of natural gas, and then used as electricity or vehicle fuel.

The above map from the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows the biogas potential in counties across the United States, with most of Iowa shaded. Iowa’s high number of agricultural operations provides the opportunity for viable biogas projects across almost the entire state, particularly in conjunction with swine farms. A study quoted in the Iowa Energy Plan estimates an initial investment of $8 million in an agricultural biogas project could yield $69.5 million in economic output over 20 years.

The American Biogas Council (ABC) currently lists five operational agricultural biogas operations in Iowa, with the potential for more than 1,000 additional projects. If completed, these projects have the potential to provide electricity to more than 150,000 homes, or fuel thousands of vehicles according to ABC.

The state of Iowa offers a number of programs that can be used for biogas projects, and innovation funding for new companies looking to capitalize on the potential of biogas in Iowa. For information on receiving funding for a specific biogas project, contact the Iowa Energy Center at For more information on how the state of Iowa supports startup businesses, contact the Iowa Economic Development Authority at

To download the full Iowa Energy Plan, visit



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